It’s Over

The Mississippi State women’s basketball team inbounded the ball with 12 seconds remaining in overtime, with a chance to end UConn’s 111-game win streak. Mississippi State’s Morgan William received a pass at the top of the three-point arc with four seconds on the clock. She drove towards the basket, and put up a shot at the buzzer, and watched it sink down in the hoop.

The Lady Bulldogs had just ended the longest winning streak in basketball history, and advanced to the first NCAA Women’s Championship in school history.

The Lady Bulldogs rushed onto the court and tackled William in the excitement of the moment, while the Lady Huskies stood in shock, as much of the team hadn’t suffered a defeat in their collegiate careers.

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma seemed to smirk after the game as he went to congratulate Bulldogs head coach Vic Schaefer, as if to say, “Well, it had to happen sometime.”

UConn’s nearly three season undefeated streak was unrivaled in both men’s and women’s basketball, the closest two attempts being 90 by UConn women’s team from 2008-2010 and 88 by the UCLA men’s team from 1970-1974.

It was an incredible feat that may never be achieved again, and should be appreciated for what it was, despite what fans of other teams in the sport may think or say.

However, their moment of defeat was sweet for the Lady Bulldog fans, and for most other fan bases in America.

Morgan William probably didn’t think about any of that though, her main focus: get the ball in the hoop in four seconds.

 

Panic! at the Oracle?

Is this the beginning of the end of an era? Is it just a bad shooting slump? Or is it a team struggling to define itself?

After losing only 9 games in the 2015-2016 season, the Golden State Warriors have dropped 3 of their last 5 after losing Kevin Durant to injury against the Washington Wizards.

Obviously a team losing a superstar would be a huge blow, but the Warriors have Steph Curry, a two-time MVP, Klay Thompson, one of the greatest spot-up shooters of all time, and Draymond Green, one the league’s premier “do-it-all” players. How did they fail to score 90 points against the Celtics and the Bulls with these superstars?

One of the main issues is poor 3-point shooting, something the Warriors are known for and something they rely on. Against the Boston Celtics, they shot 6 of 30 from downtown and were outscored 27-12 in the 4th quarter.

However, this is only a stem from the root of the issue. Durant’s absence is bigger than just his 3-point shot, his defensive and driving presence is second only to LeBron James in the NBA.

Durant is athletic enough to defend any guard in the league but big enough to defend any forward or center in the league. This creates matchup problems with Golden State’s opponents, both on offense and defensive. Put a guard on him, he shoots over the top; put a forward on him, he drives around them and gets an easy basket.

The 6’9″ Durant and his 7’5″ wingspan also allows the Warriors to play its small ball lineup, or as it has been called, the death lineup. Curry, Thompson, Andre Igoudala, Green, and Durant all on the floor at the same time is a nightmare for any opponent in the NBA as all have been voted All-Stars at some point in their career.

Without Durant, the Warriors cannot win a championship, despite the other superstars on the team. They lack the supporting cast and depth that many questioned when they picked up Durant in free agency.

The Warriors will be fine in the long run, as Durant is expected to be back in time for playoffs, and they will learn to patch the leak until Durant comes back and fixes the leak. So don’t panic Golden State, your era isn’t over yet.

Another March With More Madness

March gives everyone something to be happy about. The weather is beginning to warm up, Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to fill out another bracket for NCAA College Basketball.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament begins on March 14, with multiple conference championship tournaments in the weeks leading up to it. It is one of the greatest sports months of the year.

The ACC and Big 12 are the best conferences in the country from top to bottom, but that doesn’t guarantee them a championship. The Pac-12 will be sending UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona as their top contenders, the SEC will send Kentucky and Florida, and don’t forget #1 overall Gonzaga out of the West Coast Conference.

Don’t be shocked for some cinderella teams to make a run as well. VCU and Seton Hall are sitting square on the bubble, and historically have been good tournament teams. Some bracketologists have these two teams as a 12th seed, and there is almost always a 12th seed that has a run of some sort.

Last year, 15th seed Middle Tennessee State University shocked 2nd seed Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Will there be a team this year that beats the odds and busts the brackets? Who will that team be?

Because of the setup of the tournament, teams must come to play every game, because one bad shooting game can be the difference between a championship run and being out in the first round. That is what makes college basketball great, anyone can win on a given day, and underdogs have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So remember, fill out your brackets, and prepare for the madness that is March.

Packers Make Unbelievable Playoff Run

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had just fallen to the Washington Redskins 42-24, and sat in their locker room defeated, and their record had dropped to 4-6.

Even if the Packers were to win the rest of their games, 10-6 would not guarantee a playoff berth. Then, Rodgers said it.

“I feel like we can run the table, I really do,” Rodgers said. That’s a tall order for a team with their top 2 running backs injured and their defensive secondary decimated with injuries.

The next two weeks, the Packers beat the Eagles and the Texans, and while no win is easy in the NFL, those two wins weren’t impressing anybody.

Then they flattened the Seahawks in a game that never was competitive. Their next three games were all division games, not very good Chicago, declining Minnesota, and the playoff contending Lions.

Suddenly, Rodgers’ prediction seemed plausible, and the team began to believe in themselves.

After late game heroics by Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Mason Crosby, the Packers faced the Detroit Lions in a game that decided the division.

The Packers came out on top, and faced the New York Giants in the playoffs, the only team to knock off Dallas in the regular season (excluding Philadelphia because the Cowboys played their 3rd string players most of the game.)

The Giants outplayed Green Bay in the first half, but another Rodgers hail mary put the Packers up at halftime, and they never looked back, winning 38-13.

Then in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Packers looked as if they would embarrass the Cowboys, but Dallas fought back and tied the game at 31 with 34 seconds remaining.

34 seconds, way too much time for Aaron Rodgers and his team.

The Cowboys defense held strong, and had Green Bay in 3rd and 10, with 12 seconds remaining. But Aaron Rodgers, the football wizard of our time, fired a bullet pass across his body while rolling left, and found his tight end Jared Cook on the sideline with 3 seconds remaining.

Mason Crosby then booted a 51-yard field goal to seal the victory for the Packers, advancing them to play Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game, and a chance to go to Super Bowl LI.

This incredible 8-game winning streak was one of the most impressive in NFL history, and furthered Aaron Rodgers’ legacy and put him in the conversation of the greatest of all time.

Tomorrow the Packers take that 8-game winning streak to the Georgia dome, with the chance to further the impossible.

Summer….

Well its summer, everyone’s favorite time of the year: spending Saturday’s on the lake, going out with friends, no school. Who doesn’t love this time of year?

Ummm, for a sports junkie, summer is a continual drag as we wait for football season to start.

Except for the news that Kevin Durant will be playing next season as a Warrior, it’s been all baseball for the past few weeks, and if baseball isn’t your cup of tea, well, its okay, football season is only 2 months away.

Don’t get me wrong, I love going to a good baseball game and trying to catch foul balls and home-runs, but when its all we have for sports during the summer, it gets boring very fast.

Fortunately we have the Summer Olympics this year, that should help get us a little closer to football season a little faster.

As a Tennessee Volunteers football fan, I have been waiting for this season for a very long time. I literally cannot remember the last time Tennessee beat the Florida Gators, and I have only seen one season when the Vols legitimately competed for an SEC championship.

This is finally the year, after years of disaster and rebuilding, Tennessee is finally back to competing for championships, where it was nearly a decade ago before the fiasco that has been the Kiffin-Dooley era in Knoxville.

Tennessee has 17 returning starters and has one of the most experienced rosters in the nation, let alone the SEC.

There are no excuses this year for this team. If they cannot execute this year, the window of opportunity will have passed for now, seeing many key players will probably be gone next year due to graduation and the draft.

Football season can’t come soon enough, and I can’t wait for it.

Baylor University Rape Case

Baylor Ken Starr

Credit si.com

Baylor University, a premier school of secondary education, with highly respected nursing, engineering, computer science, and human science programs, a highly respected athletic program, and in the middle of a huge rape scandal.

According to multiple reports, and multiple lawsuits, the administration at Baylor has ignored multiple cases of rape and sexual assault to protect a “cash cow.”

The school responded to this by firing head football coach Art Briles, athletic director Ian McCaw, and president Ken Starr. Starr will, however, continue his career at the school teaching law.

According to alternet.com, Starr was, at one point, a major player in the investigation of Bill Clinton and his scandal with Monica Lewinski,  leading to Clinton’s impeachment. He is “the man who let slip—or rather, leak—into the public record every titillating detail of Clinton’s sexual indiscretions.”

So why would a man so keen on the morality of the President of the United States, not look after the morality of students at his school?

Baylor has been a football power in the Big 12 conference for the last decade or so, and during the 2014-2015 school year, made 106.1 million dollars in revenue in the athletic department, according to alternet.com.

Now, if the athletes that were responsible for this high revenue were to make some mistakes which cost them their eligibility, it would just be easier to cover it up.

According to lawsuits and claims made by victims of sexual assault, the University ignored their claims and pushed them to “get over it,” according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

This is a huge story in the sports world, especially with other schools dealing with similar issues. It is another example of people that we look up to and respect making mistakes and being influenced by greed.

Already Baylor is experiencing the after-effects of the cover-ups. While already having a black eye in the media, multiple athletes have left the program to pursue football at other universities.

While this rape scandal could be a detriment to Baylor University, we can all hope that the new administration put in at the school will bring justice to the victims of sexual assault at their institution. Maybe then Baylor can return to the respect that it had once as a school, and it can return to the top, this time doing it the right way.

Please check out the links I have provided in the article for more information on this topic.

Unity, Teamwork, and Trust Help Warriors Advance

 

USP NBA: PLAYOFFS-OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AT GOLDEN S BKN USA CA

Credit: USA Today

As the final buzzer sounded, superstars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green walked with their teammates to the visitor locker room, dejected, after receiving a 118-94 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It seemed all was lost for the defending champs. They had dropped 3 of the first 4 games of the series to Oklahoma City, including losing by a combined 52 points away from home.

Lose one more game, and everyone would remember the winning-est team in NBA history as chokers, as a team that couldn’t finish what they started.

If there was any solace to the situation, the Warriors would be able to play at home for the next game. But then, if they won, they would have to return to OKC.

“This is a tough situation to be in, but the series isn’t over,” Curry said, according to ESPN.com.

And the series wasn’t over. Golden State responded by winning 120-111 Thursday night. After hitting a layup that put the Warriors up 10 with a minute remaining, Curry ran up the court yelling, “We ain’t going home! We ain’t going home!”

Then they did Saturday what they couldn’t do before, they won in OKC, defeating the Thunder 108-101 in an exciting Game 6, in which the Warriors outscored the Thunder 19-5 in the closing minutes.

According to the San Francisco Gate, Game 7 received the highest ratings of any NBA game in history. All eyes were turned to watch to see if the Warriors could come back from the brink of elimination.

The Warriors did not disappoint. Thompson, after missing his first seven shots, finished with 21 points and shot over 50 percent from three point range.

Curry scored 36 points and broke another record. He hit 32 three pointers in the series, a playoff record. And, oh yeah, Thompson hit 30, which was also broke the previous record.

The Warriors had done what only 9 teams had done previously in the history of the NBA, and that was come back and win a 7 game series after being down 3-1. How was this possible for a team that was absolutely dominated in games 3 and 4?

The reason why became apparent in game 7. The Thunder, on one hand, looked frustrated and seemed to be arguing and pointing fingers.

The Warriors, on the other hand, were encouraging and strategizing together. There was a sense of unity and teamwork with Golden State, while OKC seemed to go into panic mode.

This sense of unity and trust seemed to be felt not only between the players, but head coach Steve Kerr as well. Holding a 6 point lead late in the 3rd quarter, Kerr put in backups Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao, to give the starters much needed rest.

Barbosa and Varejao responded with a combined 4 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and some crucial defensive stops. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan went only 2 deep in the bench with Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters, electing to play 4 of his starters for 39, 43, 45, and 46 minutes.

Now the Warriors move on to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals, beginning Thursday night, a rematch of last years finals. Last year, the Warriors overcame a 2-1 series deficit to the Cavs to win the NBA finals.

Should the Warriors fall back down in the finals, the memory of sitting in the locker room in Oklahoma City, dejected, on the brink of elimination, and how they responded to that situation, could prove the difference in determining the NBA Champions.

 

Steph vs Russ

This time a week ago, there was much discussion on Steph Curry vs Russell Westbrook as the MVP of the NBA. Both were point guards, both all-stars and leaders on their teams.

Curry was the presumed MVP nearly the entire season, after accomplishing feat after feat, hitting dagger after dagger to win games. But Westbrook quietly recorded over 30 triple-doubles, an incredible stat, and has led his team to the Western Conference Finals, upsetting the Spurs in 6 games.

This led to quite the discussion on who should win MVP this season. Steph Curry was unanimously picked last week as the league MVP, leading to a lot of backlash from fans.

However, Westbrook didn’t even finish second in the MVP voting. According to PalmBeachPost.com, Westbrook finished 3rd behind Kawhi Leonard.

So was Curry deservedly the MVP? Or did Westbrook get swindled from his MVP bid due to the success of the Golden State Warriors? Let’s take a look.

All stats for Curry and Westbrook were found on ESPN.com.

Curry played in 79 out of 82 games and averaged 32 minutes per game. He shot 50% from the field, and 45% from 3 point range. Pretty good for a point guard.

Curry was basically money from the foul line, hitting 90% of his free throws, which averages 1 miss every other game. That is ridiculous.

Ultimately he averaged out to 30.1 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and 6.7 assists per game. Very good numbers, but even more impressive when looking at the season totals.

Curry accounted for 2375 points this season, and hit an insane 402 three point shots, demolishing his previous NBA record of 286. It is likely this record will never be broken.

Westbrook didn’t have a score-a-thon like Curry, but his all around game has proven better. He played 80 out of 82 games, and averaged 34 minutes a game.

He shot 45% from the field and 30% from 3 point range, solid but somewhat average compared to Curry.

Westbrook shot 80% from the free throw line, which is about 3 misses in every 2 games. Still very good, but not as impressive as Curry.

However, here is where the stat line gets impressive, Westbrook put up 23.5 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game. That’s right, he averaged a double-double.

A lot of players don’t average 10.4 POINTS in a game, let alone assists. Westbrook hasn’t needed to be the one to score all the points, he has teammates that he can distribute to, who can make clutch shots.

The verdict: While Westbrook had an impressive overall stat line, Curry still had solid numbers all around, but in addition, he shot lights out all season long. While a very convincing case can be made for Westbrook, Steph Curry’s value to his team is very tangible. When he went down to injury, his team lost 2 games in 2 weeks, after losing 9 for the entire season.

Westbrook’s team, the Thunder, have players like Kevin Durant who can take over when Westbrook is out, while the Warriors seem to have lost a leader on the court. Whatever the case may be, these are both great players who play on great teams.

Fortunately for us, we get to watch these two battle it out in the Western Conference Finals. This should be fun.

Steph Curry

OK, so, this isn’t going to be a full blog post everybody, but I just have to say something about this.

Steph Curry started the night on the bench for the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 against the Portland Trailblazers. It was supposed to be an easy night for him as he was still recovering from an injury.

Well, starter Shaun Livingston get two technical fouls in the first half and is ejected from the game. Suddenly Steph Curry has to play or else the team does not have a true point guard.

So still recovering from injury Steph Curry scores 13 points in the first 36 minutes, a solid night. Then he woke up in the 4th quarter. He scored 10 points in the final 12 minutes and led the team from a double digit deficit to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Then what did he do? He only scored 17 straight points in OT, which is only 5 minutes long, keep in mind. He finished the game with 40 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.

After draining a 3 in OT, Curry yelled to the crowd, “I’m back! I’m back!” according to ESPN.com. My whole apartment was jumping up and down screaming the same exact thing after the game.

In coach Steve Kerr’s post-game press conference, he opened up simply stating that Steph Curry would start Wednesday. Was that even a hard decision for Coach Kerr?